Joyce Kilmer acquired some fame as a journalist, serving on the staff of the New York Times from 1913 to 1918, but most people remember him as the author of the poem "Trees" ("I think that I shall never see/A poem lovely as a tree"). He died in action in World War I. The 3,800 acres of North Carolina's Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest--perhaps the single most impressive growth of eastern virgin forest in the United States, with many trees hundreds of years old--is a part of Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness and borders Citico Creek Wilderness. Except for its northwestern section preserving the northwestern corner of Nantahala National Forest, this Wilderness is in North Carolina. Spared the keen edge of the ax when bankruptcy closed the local logging company in 1890, this Wilderness contains some magnificent old-growth forest, where oaks, hemlocks, and tulip poplars have reached six feet in diameter. The forest also includes yellow pine, sycamore, basswood, dogwood, beech, and oak, with a wild understory of shrubs, vines, ferns, mosses, lichens, liverworts, and herbaceous plants. Wildflowers bloom in spring sunshine but fade when the trees leaf out, darkening the forest floor. Six trailheads provide access to more than 60 miles of trail (in the entire Wilderness), which typically follow ridge tops or drop into the shady drainages. Camping is permitted anywhere in the Wilderness, but not at adjacent trail heads. Overnight parking is permitted at all trailheads except at the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Loop and Picnic Area. The Stiff Knee Trail (3.4 miles) follows Little Slickrock Creek across the Tennessee portion to a junction with the Slickrock Creek Trail (13.3 miles), longer and more beautiful than any trail in the entire Wilderness. You can see some of the best of the old growth along the Joyce Kilmer National Recreation Trail, a 1.2-mile path ambling through the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
(Known as the Eastern Wilderness Areas Act) - Public law 93-622 (1/3/1975) To further the purposes of the Wilderness Act by designating certain acquired lands for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System, to provide for study of certain additional lands for such inclusion, and for other purposes
Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 - Public law 115-334 (12/20/2018) To provide for the reform and continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through fiscal year 2023, and for other purposes.